Depression can strike anyone. But when Mark R. Jones was afflicted, his response was to rip off his union. On July 26, Jones pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling $74,000 from local and state affiliates of the American Federation of Musicians. He had served as president and secretary-treasurer of Musicians Local 92 and secretary-treasurer of the New York State Conference of Musicians. He also had headed the Buffalo AFL-CIO Council until his resignation last December from that 98,000-member body. He cited as his main reason an ongoing battle with depression.
An audit by the Department of Labor turned up a pattern of irregularities, triggering a criminal investigation. As it turned out, Jones, 48, had embezzled $40,000 in funds from his local and another $34,000 from the state organization. He sometimes charged items on the local union’s credit card, and then charged the same items to the parent union, pocketing the difference. Jones at least is repentant. He repaid $21,000 of the amount before the investigation even began, and since then has repaid nearly all the rest, confirmed the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He faces 12 to 18 months in prison, plus a $3,000 fine, at his sentencing hearing set for November 3. (Buffalo News, 7/27/06).